As we move forward with the decriminalization of marijuana and potentially legalizing weed at a federal level, California’s state government is working to adapt. It’s great to see the progress we’ve achieved when it comes to the stigma and criminalization surrounding weed. On the other hand, it’s important to acknowledge the other side of the coin as well. Efforts like the War on Drugs disproportionately affected some communities more than others. This is especially true in lower-income and POC communities. In order to address and combat these effects, California’s Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) has decided to take action. Thanks to the DCC, California offers cannabis equity grants. 

What are the details surrounding these grants? Who is eligible and how can you apply? 

California Offers Cannabis Equity Grants 

According to California officials, the golden state will now have millions of dollars available for grant programs. These grant programs are specifically created to support marijuana social equity initiatives. Additionally, these programs and grants will help localities in processing pending cannabis business license applications. 

This money will be available to 17 cities and counties where they need the most assistance. One of DCC’s goals is to help people convert their provisional license to a full-year license. Although many businesses have already secured a provisional license, a full-year license is much better. It’s one less worry as a business owner. 

Because each city and county has different needs, the grants will range from $400,000  to $22 million each. 

By offering this type of support, they are not only supporting businesses and the economy but the fight against the illicit cannabis market as well. These grants were made possible by the cannabis tax dollars earned. 

These grants are being given to city and county officials. In order to qualify, the city and counties must demonstrate that they have plans of creating a social equity program. This can be shown in efforts or proposals. 

California’s Department of Cannabis Control 

The Department of Cannabis Control is the California state agency that licenses and regulates cannabis businesses. They manage the regulation of the: 

The DCC is a fairly new agency. It was formed on July 1, 2021. Moreover, it’s actually a consolidation of 3 former cannabis authorities in the state. These include the Bureau of Cannabis, CalCannabisCultivation Licensing Division, and the Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch. 

Other Social Equity Programs

These grants are not the only available option. California is working hard to support the success of the state’s recreational cannabis system. In fact, there are many other social equity programs and grants available for cannabis businesses. 

In June, the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) announces plans to award grants. They stated it would award about $29 million in grants to 58 nonprofit organizations. This program is possible thanks to funding from the California Community Reinvestment Grants program. GO-Biz also emphasizes that this is done with the intent to address the wrongs caused by the war on drugs. 

These grants are being awarded to qualifying nonprofits. These nonprofit organizations must be dedicated to helping disproportionately impacted communities. These efforts can be done through providing job placement, mental health treatment, substance misuse treatment, and legal services. 

Similarly, officials with the California Department of Fish and WIldlife also announced that they were starting a program of their own. In fact, they were soliciting concept proposals. This program would be cannabis tax-funded. The program’s purpose would be to help small marijuana cultivators with environmental clean-up and restoration efforts. The illicit cannabis market regularly poses a threat to wildlife in California. 

Finally, there’s Sacramento’s cannabis equity program. The city of Sacramento created the Cannabis Opportunity Reinvestment and Equity program (CORE). Its aim is to help create delivery and cultivation businesses in the city. It was created back in November 2017. Additionally, it works to address the negative impacts of disproportionate enforcement of cannabis criminalization. 

Since its creation, CORE has helped many cannabis businesses owners start up their pursuit. They help by providing courses and funding business permits. This program helped the first black woman in Sacramento to earn a cannabis business permit. Betty Mitchell is the owner and founder of Tively Cannabis Food Blend. 

California offers cannabis equity programs for a purpose. The stigma against marijuana left behind negative impacts on several low-income and POC communities. There’s a responsibility to address these effects, especially when moving forward with the normalization and legalization of weed. By funding businesses that work to address this, it can help broaden the cannabis market while helping the communities that need it.